In the world of sports becoming video games, there are two ends to a very large spectrum. On one end you would have your serious simulations that painstakingly try to recreate every aspect of the sport in the most realistic manner that one can imagine. On the other and equally opposite end of the spectrum there is what we refer to as the “arcade” version of the sport. When we refer to motorsports, we go from games like Burnout on the GameCube and the classic Beetle Adventure Racing on the N64 to the super serious Gran Turismo series on the PlayStation family of systems. For the longest time, I felt that the latter was the most realistic a video game racing series could be. You get your cars, you tune them, you race them. That’s no longer the case. The latest on-road motorcycle racing game called RiMS Racing is now the most detailed racing game that I have ever played, but does that make it good?
RiMS is pretty. I can tell you that straight away. Even on the Switch, the bikes are detailed down to the screws that hold it together. If the developers didn’t have an absolute love for the genre of sport bike racing, they have given an Oscar worthy performance that would fool even the sourest of critics. There are eight bikes and each one is meticulously crafted in digital form. Ducati, Honda, and even though you don’t need any other brand than those two, they give you six more. That may not really seem like an incredible amount, but there isn’t as deep of a well of manufacturers as there are for the four-wheeled counterparts that we refer to as cars. This is most likely why you see a lot of auto racing games, but you get a new cycle racing game every time someone gets hit by lightning. On a mountain. During a rainstorm. While pandas dance an Irish jig. In other words, not very often at all.
If you want to really dig into what makes a bike of this caliber tick, RiMS will fill that for you as best it can without you purchasing a real bike and all the parts to mess with. Not only is there a large array of parts that you can earn, but you can also tweak settings to see if you can make the bike handle better, go faster, stop on a dime, or just increase the grip of the tires to help prevent you from careening off the road if you take a turn too fast. I did that a lot. I do that a lot in most racing games. I’m starting to think that I’m not very good at racing games. But I digress.
If I were to make a quick suggestion to you, and you have one of the other gaming consoles that RiMS is available on, and your jam is motorcycle racing simulator games, it might be a good idea to pick this game up on something other than our beloved Switch. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is absolutely epic on the Switch. It’s brilliant in almost every way. However, it’s an arcade racing game without a serious string in the code. RiMS is okay on the Switch. It will delight you if this is the only gaming console you have. But it has some issues that give me pause to recommend this title to you or any of my friends.
The graphics are most definitely scaled back for the hardware it’s running on. It’s like wanting a PC tower with hand-picked parts you selected painstakingly over months in advance of assembly, but what you get is a Dell laptop. No offense to Dell or Nintendo, they’re brilliant for what they were designed to do. This game has more potential than what a portable system can offer, not only in the graphics and framerate, but the controls and how your bike behaves.
If you’re going to spend an hour changing this and that to get your bike to behave in a way that could help you win a race, wouldn’t it be nice to have a good controller that aids you in seeing how these changes actually behave? You can forget the Joy-Con and playing attached to the Switch. Not only do none of the controllers have analog triggers for feathering the brakes and throttle, something than can be worked around, the tiny controller stick doesn’t have a long enough throw to give you any good control and it will take much longer to get used to the feel of the bike. You may spend more time trying to get a good feel for the stock bike than to understand if the changes you made are making your experience better or worse.
While I do admire the studio for bringing cycle racing to a portable gaming system, it falls incredibly short on the enjoyment scale due to the limitations of the hardware or the lackluster way in which they ported and scaled it back to fit. A for effort, but a D for execution. That’s not to say that you won’t enjoy it if you’re a fan of the sport, I’m just saying that you may want to pass on this version and pick it up on a more powerful console to take out the more frustrating aspects of the game.
RiMS Racing Review
- Graphics - 6/106/10
- Sound - 6/106/10
- Gameplay - 4/104/10
- Lasting Appeal - 5/105/10
Final Thoughts: MEDIOCRE
While it’s the most ambitious motorcycle racing game that I have played, the limitations of the Switch and its controllers will make this a frustrating experience for many gamers. Unless you have no other choice of console and figure you can put up with the lower framerates, scaled back graphics, and difficult control because you absolutely love the sport then, by all means, give it a try because the craftsmanship of RiMS could be well worth it for you.
Jay has been an avid gamer since the Intellivision days. His hobbies include building PCs, 3D modeling and printing, and spending time with his children and dog.